For the last week I've desired simple food — broths and lemony rice and jammy-buttered scones. This morning I enjoyed a rare moment of pause in the milk parlor to squeeze goat milk into my cup of coffee. Sustenance of any kind is welcome, but especially the simple sort. This diversion from my love of spice and onions on everything is not from nowhere; I know exactly where it comes from. Last week my grandma died. Her impossibly warm embrace is no longer ours for the taking, as she's left for a new life.
I've been recalling my Uncle Jay, a beloved family member of superhuman proportions who passed away several years ago. He would famously say, "Love to stay, but got to go." And in those words I find my grandma, too. Because, truly, she would have loved to stay. She would have enjoyed nothing more than to hug her family and pray her daily rosary and have her morning oatmeal. In the last years of her life that's precisely what she did, and she cherished it. I know this. I grew up five minutes from her and spent every day of my youth at her house. I was blessed to live with her for a year before Mark and I were married, and in the last year of her life we became pen pals. And now, I miss her terribly. But then there's the second half of Jay's saying, "but got to go." . . . She did. To experience a natural death after a long, deliberate, marvelous life — who would I be to want for a different outcome? I talk to my mama every day (my gram's youngest child of seven!), and we reiterate over and over that there is no despair in her death, only sadness.
Mourning, yes. Grief, yes. Despair, no. Imagining where she is now, I am filled with joy.
So, back to food. One of the ways I am coping with mourning is through eating—and even imagining—foods that remind me of her. Let's just say there was no coconut oil, almond milk, or chia seeds in her pantry. She drank whole milk her entire life and did not bat at eye at buttering a muffin. A muffin. My queen. This morning I made a very basic, shaggy Swedish scone (svenska) recipe that is less of a scone and more of a biscuit that came out shaped like a cake. Thus, in honor of my grandma's simple kitchen, it will sit in as June's Cake-of-the-Month. Food is, without question, the way I honor the ones I love. And I loved Mariellen Zaleski a lot. There is much honoring to do. Cheers to many simple buttered recipes in all of our futures. Anyway, love to stay, but got to go.